Wednesday, July 2, 2008

How it all began

Since I can’t show what I’m working on I decided to look back a few decades and write about what it was like to knit in the late 70s / early 80s. Back then I hadn’t knit for a while. Actually, quite a while. I learned how to knit in the mid 60s when Grandma C taught me to cast on, knit and bind off. That lesson gave my Barbie doll several scarves and the kitchen a few pot holders but – not much else happened after that. I got into stamped cross stitch, sewing and other fiber crafts for the next several years.

My first year of college one of my friends and I bought Coat and Clarks little green book on how to Knit and Crochet. It cost $.35 back then. That and a ball of yarn and a crochet hook started my crocheting. Problem was - learning to crochet from littler drawings of the end of the hook meant I held the yarn and hook the same way I knit - throwing the yarn. To this day I crochet "wrong" but - it works for me. For the next year I became friends with the yarn section of Lee Wards (the Michael’s type store of the 70s). They had their own plastic (acrylic) yarn that I used for afghans and an incredibly ugly green sweater that was ripped out eventually. The sweater was more of a jacket – mid hip length. Two strands of yarn, one lime green sport weight and one Kelly green worsted weight. It was crocheted to “look” like knit. Oh good grief what was I thinking!

I still use my shades of blue granny square afghan – check out the last post, the boys are sleeping on it. That’s the great thing about the yarn back then – it will last FOREVER! Plastic does not die. The royal blue is now a faded denim blue but it still works. We didn’t have too many choices back then. Most stores had some yarn but it was all the same hard plastic or crochet cotton. I did make a lovely doily out of bright yellow. Nice doily – terrible color. Then there was the toilet top doily out of variegated pink. Mom loved it. It’s obvious I was big into bright colors back then. Weren’t we all? Oh – I also made things in shades of brown. Enough of this terrible stuff. I need to move on a year to when I started knitting again. Things get a bit better.

Thanksgiving my sophomore year we went to my Aunt’s. My cousin had made an afghan that was knit in blocks of purl and knit. Mom liked it. I decided to start up knitting again and make it for Mom for Christmas. What could possibly be wrong with this idea? One month to relearn to knit, knit a complete afghan, finish the quarter and study for finals. Sounds easy to me. I bought needles, yarn (Ben Franklin had softer acrylic) and got to work. I knit while reading & studying, knit while watching TV, knit whenever I could. The Christmas Eve came. It was not done. But it was close. I sat in my room and knit like a woman possessed. I told my brother to hold off present time as long as possible. At one point Mom actually knocked on my door and opened it. There I was with the afghan spread out on my lap as I knit. Afterward she said my face had such a look of shock that she didn’t even see the afghan. Two minutes before present time I finished a beautiful afghan made from 2 strands of royal blue and 1 strand of gold on a size 13 or 15 needle (can’t remember). It was 10 sts and 10 rows of stockinette and reverse stockinette blocks. That was back in 1974 and that afghan is still in use. I was back to knitting!

Next time – what it was like to work in a yarn shop back then. I go to work part time to help a friend of the family and learn what real yarn is!


Guinifer said...

An afghan I knit for my mom got me started again after college! (I learned at the age of 9 in a Community Ed class).

Barb said...

Oh, I remember the Lee Wards days. I learned to knit in the mid-eighties. I still have some HUGE skeins of cream Lee Wards brand acrylic in my stash. I was making an afghan but I got sidetracked.